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New home for NHS Lothian neuroscience


This week marked a significant milestone in the history of medicine and surgery in Edinburgh and the Lothians, as the door of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) at the Western General Hospital closes for the final time. This comes ahead of the department’s full move to their new purpose-built home at the Edinburgh Bioquarter.

The move will see inpatient Neurosurgery and Neurology wards, along with Neurosurgery Theatres and Interventional Neuro-Radiology join other services that moved to the new building in May this year.

The Western General Hospital has been the home of neurosurgery since the 1960s, when pioneering surgeon Norman Dott helped to establish the facilities.

Dott, a hugely influential and important character in the development and enhancement of neurosurgery within Scotland, was instrumental in designing the famous operating theatres. These included reflector vaulted roofs that avoided shadows falling on the patients and surgeons, a design which attracted worldwide attention.

While Dott retired in 1963, the department that he established continued to grow and lead the way in research, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, merging in 1986 with the Department of Medical Neurology to form the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

Neuroscience is a group of specialist disciplines bringing together neurology (medical) and neurosurgery (surgical). The expert teams are made up of a range of specialists, neurologists and neurosurgeons and treat people with disorders of the nervous system, such as problems affecting the brain and spinal cord, and the nerves and muscles in the rest of the body, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or brain injuries.

Jane McNulty, Associate Nurse Director, Critical Care Anaesthesia and Theatres at the Western General Hospital told us that the move to the new site will be a bittersweet transition for many members of the team who have a sentimental attachment to the old building.

She said, ” The Department of Clinical Neuroscience has such an interesting and important history, and to be part of that is really special.

“As the team prepares for the move from the Western General to our new home at the Little France site, there is a huge amount of excitement. The department is moving into a brand new, purpose built facility that really will offer so much more for our patients.

“The excitement however, will be coupled with a tinge of sadness, as we leave behind the historical building and the many fond memories that were made here.”

The first phase of the department’s move took place in May, but a number of services remained at the Western General site, playing an important and critical role in supporting NHS Lothian’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susan Goldsmith, Finance Director and Executive Lead for the project explained that reaching this final phase in the move schedule, meaning that all remaining services will move to their new home, is a significant moment, which could not have been achieved without the full involvement of both clinical and project teams.

She said, ” As one door closes, another one opens and today we mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the provision of neuroscience services here in Scotland. The new facility will not only benefit the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians, but will provide specialist care for patients from the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Forth Valley and Fife.

“As the remaining teams pack and prepare to say a fond farewell to the Western General Hospital, they take with them not only the wonderful legacy of Norman Dott, but a passion and determination, which will ensure that NHS Lothian can continue to provide world class treatment and care for patients, while leading the way in cutting edge neuroscience research and developments.”